18 May

Sieur de Maisonneuve (1612-1676)

Montreal Is Founded

Surely no city had a more romantic beginning than Montreal. In 1635, Jerome de la Dauversière, a tax collector in Anjou, had a vision of an island called Montreal. He felt inspired to found an order of nuns who would establish a hospital there. Dauversière had never heard of Montreal, so he went to Paris to learn something about it. On the way he met a priest, Jacques Olier, and together they founded the Sulpician order, which secured a grant of the island. A distinguished crusader and warrior, the Sieur de Maisonneuve, agreed to go as governor.

The party arrived at Quebec in August, 1641, but Governor Montmagny was opposed to their going farther up the river, knowing the danger from the Iroquois. He tried to get them to establish a mission on the Island of Orleans, below Quebec.

Maisonneuve said: "Were all the trees on the island of Montreal to be changed into so many Iroquois, it is a point of duty and honor for me to go there and establish a colony." The winter was spent building boats and they began their journey on May 8, Montmagny going with them.

The morning of May 18 was clear, with sunshine touching the top of Mount Royal and lighting up the forests. Maisonneuve went on shore first and dropped to his knees in prayer. The twenty other members of the party followed. The actual place was where a small stream they named St. Pierre flowed into the St. Lawrence. Now it is an area of tall buildings.

An altar was built, and Father Vimont conducted the first Mass while soldiers with muskets stood guard. At the Mass, Father Vimont uttered some prophetic words: "That which you see is only a grain of mustard seed. But it is cast by hands so pious and so animated by faith and religion that it must be that God has great designs for it. He makes use of such instruments for His work. I doubt not that this little grain may produce a great tree, that it will make wonderful progress some day, that it will multiply itself and stretch out on every side."


18 May

-1675    Marquette died in the Lake Michigan area.

              The Feast of the Assumption Mass was first celebrated at the church of Notre Dame de Bon-Secours, the first stone church in Montreal.

-1783    Seven thousand United Empire Loyalists landed at Parrtown (Saint John). 1785 Parrtown was incorporated and its name changed to Saint John; it is the oldest incorporated city in Canada.

              Reverend Dr. Stuart opened the first school in Upper Canada at Kingston, Ontario.

-1824    William Lyon Mackenzie founded the Colonial Advocate.

-1837    Lower Canada banks suspended payments until June, 1838.

-1846    Kingston received a city charter.

-1861    The College of Bytown became Ottawa College.